By the time this is published, the third and last presidential debate for the 2012 election will have taken place. Probably more in contested states than elsewhere, the presidential ads have increased more and more, and the campaigning has become more intense. That is probably why I have been drawn to these words in our first reading from Ephesians: "For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh." Here, St. Paul is talking about the enmity and division between Jews and Gentiles in his time. But it is not hard to see "dividing walls" between groups any where you look today.
In our Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus tells His disciples to be ready when he comes again: "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival." The exhortation to be vigilant might sound like a call to defend those "dividing walls" mentioned above. After all, it seems that certain values we hold dear are under attack. But I wonder whether we should also be on the alert for the opportunities to break down those walls. Just as we can be vigilant to defend our faith and values, can we also be vigilant for peace and dialogue?
Maybe we’re called to do both: to be vigilant in standing up for what we believe, but also willing to take every opportunity to share and work with others of good faith in order to help bring about the kingdom. If I get to heaven, I’m not sure I’ll be asked to what political party I belong, but whether I was about doing God’s will in following Jesus. He died on the cross to reconcile us to God and to each other! May we be vigilant in upholding the truth we know, and in learning the truth from others. And may God’s reconciliation continue in our world.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.